As a public speaker/adult education expert, the most important advice I can give to other facilitators is: KNOW YOUR CONTENT COLD.
For me it happens in three steps:
- Step 1: Sitting at my desk I read through the material, not trying to memorize, just trying to absorb it. I do this until I feel pretty darn confident that I know this stuff. And this is where most people stop. Step 2 will prove I don’t yet know my content cold.
- Step 2: Standing/pacing/moving in my office while I re-tell the content, but in my own words, in a way that sounds authentically me without changing the meaning. I might glance at notes, but I am never reading from the page. This step probably occurs in small chunks of time over several days.
- Step 3: Ideally in the location where I will facilitate, but if not, I try to imagine I’m there with an audience. Now I have notes as backup, but I really shouldn’t need them at all. This is essentially a dress-rehearsal. If it’s a high-stakes presentation I might even record myself and watch for things I want to adjust.
When I consistently follow these steps, and know my content cold, I feel more prepared and any anxiety I might have had just disappears. This leaves me better able to concentrate on the most important thing, engaging with the audience and making sure I deliver the best experience possible.
Jillian Douglas is co-founder and Chief Learning Officer at Idea Learning.